Geographic and Governmental Profile of Puerto Rico

Background
Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Christopher COLUMBUS' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status with the US.
Location
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates
18 15 N, 66 30 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
total:
13,790 sq km
rank:
163
land:
8,870 sq km
water:
4,921 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries
0 km
Coastline
501 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
Climate
tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain
mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point:
Cerro de Punta 1,338 m
Natural resources
some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
Land use
arable land:
3.69%
permanent crops:
5.59%
other:
90.72% (2005)
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Irrigated land
220 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards
periodic droughts; hurricanes
Environment - current issues
erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages
Geography - note
important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north
Country name
conventional long form:
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form:
Puerto Rico
Dependency status
unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President
Government type
commonwealth
Capital
name:
San Juan
geographic coordinates:
18 28 N, 66 07 W
time difference:
UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco
Independence
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
National holiday
US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)
Constitution
ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952
Legal system
civil law system based on the Spanish civil code and within the framework of the US federal system
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal; note - island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government:
Governor Luis FORTUNO (since 2 January 2009)
cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
elections:
under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results:
Luis FORTUNO elected governor with 52.8% of the vote
Legislative branch
bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections:
Senate - last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - PNP 81.5%, PPD 18.5%; seats by party - PNP 22, PPD 5; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PNP 72.5%, PPD 27.5%; seats by party - PNP 37, PPD 14
Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PNP 1
Judicial branch
Supreme Court; Appellate Court; Court of First Instance composed of two sections: a Superior Court and a Municipal Court (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate)
Political parties and leaders
National Democratic Party [Roberto PRATS]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Dr. Tiody FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP [Pedro ROSSELLO] (pro-US statehood); Popular Democratic Party or PPD [Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA] (pro-commonwealth); Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] (pro-independence)
Political pressure groups and leaders
Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros); note - the following radical groups are considered dormant by Federal law enforcement: Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN, Armed Forces of Popular Resistance, Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution
International organization participation
Caricom (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UNWTO (associate), UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US
none (territory of the US)
Diplomatic representation from the US
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
Flag description
five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; the white star symbolizes Puerto Rico; the three sides of the triangle signify the executive, legislative and judicial parts of the government; blue stands for the sky and the coastal waters; red symbolizes the blood shed by warriors, while white represents liberty, victory, and peace
design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed
National symbol(s)
Puerto Rican spindalis (bird); coqui (frog)
National anthem
name:
"La Borinquena" (The Puerto Rican)
lyrics/music:
Manuel Fernandez JUNCOS/Felix Astol ARTES
music adopted 1952, lyrics adopted 1977; the local anthem's name is a reference to the indigenous name of the island, Borinquen; the music was originally composed as a dance in 1867 and gained popularity in the early 20th century; there is some evidence that the music was written by Francisco RAMIREZ; as a commonwealth of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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